Production Technology

Visual Language

A Common Visual Language for Media Creation

Workflows are complex with many details that need to be shown or hidden based on the audience. Humans are visual creatures and diagrams can be a very efficient way to communicate information, so diagrams are an important way to communicate about workflows. But as with spoken or written languages, the use of a common language made up of quickly understood words greatly improve communication.

Workflow diagrams try to explain to the viewer the elements of a workflow and how the tasks, participants and assets are related to each other. However no standards have ever been created to explain how best to draw a workflow diagram so we have had vastly different diagrams drawn over the years forcing the audience to ask questions of the presenter – what are you trying to show here? How do these elements related? What do the lines mean?​

​The MovieLabs Visual Language for Media Creation is designed to create a common communication system so that we can all draw diagrams consistently in a language which can be understood by all. The Visual Language project has been borne out of our own MovieLabs projects as we communicated (or miscommunicated) with our studio members and is now being embraced by service vendors, software developers and tools companies.

The Visual Language defines standard shapes to represent components of a workflow:


Ontology Scope

We’ve also defined and designed over 70 unique icons that can be used in your workflows, diagrams and applications for common components used in media workflows that are not represented in other icon libraries.  Examples include camera, audio, image and video files, characters, scenes, shots etc.

Movielabs Visual Language

The MovieLabs Visual Language is fully documented on the MovieLabs Media Creation Documentation site accessible here  .  In the Additional Resources section below we also provide downloadable templates for major software packages used to create workflow diagrams.  These templates get you started quickly with all of the shapes, lines and icons for the Visual Language and some examples of their usage.  All of the assets for the MovieLabs Visual Language are provided for free under a Creative Commons License.

In addition the MovieLabs Vocabulary provides a glossary of  defined terms and includes, where available, an SVG download of the related Visual Language Icon.  You can explore the MovieLabs Media Creation Vocabulary here.

Additional Resources

Download Visual Asset Package

Icons, Shapes and Lines (PNG and SVG) for use in diagrams, documents and software applications

Visual Language Document Templates

Icons, Shapes and Lines ready to be used in PowerPoint, Keynote, Visio, AutoCAD and OmniGraffle

LucidChart Template Library

Email  to request  access